PowerLine – The GOP race, two scenarios

PowerLine – The GOP race, two scenarios

Sen. Dean Heller endorses Rubio

Posted: 21 Feb 2016 02:56 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

Nevada Senator Dean Heller has endorsed Marco Rubio for president. He had previously endorsed Jeb Bush.

Heller’s endorsement comes two days before the Nevada caucuses.

As endorsements go, Heller’s is not a bad one to have. Elaina Plott explains why:

Other than Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison, who chairs Rubio’s Nevada campaign, Heller is the state’s most prominent LDS member, making his stamp no small coup for Rubio. LDS voters gave Mitt Romney his landslide Nevada victories in 2008 and 2012, and Rubio’s team has courted them accordingly. Heller also has clout in Washoe County — the state’s key swing county — having represented it in Congress from 2007 to 2011.

Unfortunately for Rubio, Donald Trump is polling at around 40 percent or more in Nevada, about double the numbers of Rubio and Ted Cruz. Although Trump is said to have little ground game there, he looks to be in the driver’s seat. As was the case with Nikki Haley, the Heller endorsement might have more relevance to the race for second place than the race for first.

Heller’s endorsement is also a sign of things to come. With Jeb Bush out and Rubio clearly back on his feet, we should expect a spate of endorsements for the Florida Senator in the coming days.

The GOP race, two scenarios [UPDATED]

Posted: 21 Feb 2016 12:32 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)

Earlier today, John laid out a plausible and optimistic scenario for how the Republican presidential race will play out. He suggested that even if Ben Carson and John Kasich do not drop out of the race, their voters will start to fall away and most of them will gravitate towards Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz (probably more to Rubio than Cruz).

In this scenario, the race will become effectively a three-man contest. Trump then will be beatable in winner-take-all primaries.

This doesn’t mean that Trump will be beaten in most or even many, of them. However, John’s scenario provides a reason to believe he can be stopped.

But consider a second scenario, which I also consider plausible:

1. Kasich stays in the race (as John and I think he probably will);

2. Rubio replaces Jeb Bush as a major target of Trump;

3. Kasich remains under the radar, drawing little fire from anyone;

4. In the debates, Kasich continues to come off as above the food fight, and no other candidate does;

5. As the only candidate left with governing experience, the only real moderate, and, seemingly, the only “adult,” Kasich’s support holds and perhaps grows;

6. He thus draws a respectable percentage of the vote in states like Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, New York, and California.

In this scenario, it’s a four-way race and Trump, with his 35 percent share of the vote, wins most of the winner-take-all primaries. He thus becomes the Republican nominee.

Which of these two scenarios is more plausible? I don’t know.

I do know that to have strong confidence that Trump won’t be nominated, what we really need is a two-man race. And we’re pretty far from that scenario, it seems to me.

UPDATE: Presumably, Kasich won’t stay in the race indefinitely if he fails to make a strong showing — say, 20 percent or better — in states where he expects to do well. Let’s, therefore, consult the primary schedule.

On March 1, there are two primaries in which Kasich might fancy his prospects: Massachusetts and Vermont. But it’s unlikely that poor showings there would cause him to quit.

The first big primary for Kasich is Michigan on March 8, and it’s no coincidence that Kasich left South Carolina for Michigan before votes were cast yesterday. A deflating result in Michigan could drive Kasich out, especially if he’s not polling well in Ohio (he won’t want to be humiliated in his home state). However, I don’t assume Kasich will do poorly there.

Illinois and Ohio vote on March 15. Kasich will have to perform well in Ohio (no worse than a solid second place, I would think). Thus, March 15 looks the earliest Kasich might quit.

After March 15, 18 states will hold primaries and one will have caucuses (Utah). Most of the primaries will be winner-take-all.

I think Kasich needs to be out or on life support by this time. Otherwise, Trump probably will be very hard to stop.

Let’s Be Like France—Seriously

Posted: 21 Feb 2016 12:16 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)

It is great sport to make fun of the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys and worse, but I think there might be some game for a candidate, especially one with initials “DT,” to suggest we borrow a page from the French in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Mark Lilla of Columbia University, one of the smarter liberals around whose writing I always try to take in, has a long essay in the current issue of the New York Review of Books (another pub we cover here at Power Line so that you don’t have to) on the topic of “France: Is There a Way Out?” Lilla lists the numerous small-scale terror incidents over that last year in addition to the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres. And also, what the French are doing about it. The article behind a subscriber paywall, but here’s the part that makes our Patriot Act look like kindergarten stuff and give the ACLU an embolism:

The Hollande government responded in kind [to public Islamist threats], immediately putting ten thousand troops on Parisian streets and declaring a state of emergency, giving the police extraordinary powers to conduct searches without warrants, detain suspects, and impose temporary house arrest. Speaking before a joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate, the president then declared that France was at war with ISIS and would be stepping up its bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq, not withdrawing. Most controversially he called for binationals convicted of terrorist crimes to be stripped of French nationality, a proposal that runs up against current constitutional and European jurisprudence but has been Hollande’s most popular move since being elected. (The government has subsequently removed any reference to binationals from the proposal.) According to a national poll taken a few days after the attacks, a large majority of the public would like to go even further by detaining all those who have been identified as potential terrorist threats by the police.

Just imagine the outrage if le Donald proposed these measures here. He could say we’re finally getting in step with Europe! Watch cosmopolitan liberal heads explode.

The same issue of the NYRB also has an article entitled “Liberal, Harsh Denmark” that is equally eye-opening. High Eakin reports that Denmark, Bernie Sanders’s favorite country, has had enough with immigration and Euro-style multiculturalism:

When it comes to refugees, however, Denmark has long led the continent in its shift to the right—and in its growing domestic consensus that large-scale Muslim immigration is incompatible with European social democracy. To the visitor, the country’s resistance to immigrants from Africa and the Middle East can seem implacable. In last June’s Danish national election—months before the Syrian refugee crisis hit Europe—the debate centered on whether the incumbent, center-left Social Democrats or their challengers, the center-right Liberal Party, were tougher on asylum-seekers. The main victor was the Danish People’s Party, a populist, openly anti-immigration party, which drew 21 percent of the vote, its best performance ever. Its founder, Pia Kjærsgaard, for years known for suggesting that Muslims “are at a lower stage of civilization,” is now speaker of the Danish parliament. With the backing of the Danish People’s Party, the center-right Liberals formed a minority government that has taken one of the hardest lines on refugees of any European nation.

When I arrived in Copenhagen last August, the new government, under Liberal Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, had just cut social benefits to refugees by 45 percent. There was talk among Danish politicians and in the Danish press of an “invasion” from the Middle East—though the influx at the time was occurring in the Greek islands, more than one thousand miles away. In early September, Denmark began taking out newspaper ads in Lebanon and Jordan warning would-be asylum-seekers not to come. And by November, the Danish government announced that it could no longer accept the modest share of one thousand refugees assigned to Denmark under an EU redistribution agreement because Italy and Greece had lost control of their borders.

And such sentiment seems to be moving beyond just Denmark. Eakin also reports:

Nor is the backlash limited to the right. Since the New Year’s attacks by migrants against women in Cologne, conservative opponents of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy have been joined by feminists and members of the left, who have denounced the “patriarchal” traditions of the “Arab man.” Recent data on the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, who in January were polling at 28 percent of the popular vote, shows that the party’s steady rise during Sweden’s decade of open-asylum policies has closely tracked a parallel decline in support for the center-left Social Democrats, the traditional force in Swedish politics. Confronted with such a populist surge, the Swedish government announced on January 27 that it plans to deport as many as 80,000 asylum-seekers.

But not all is worthy reading in the current issue of the NYRB. There’s a long review by Nicholas Lemann of two recent Reagan books (one of them the O’Reilly tripe) that contains multiple errors in nearly every paragraph. You really have to work hard to be consistently wrong in every paragraph, but Lemann is up to it. I doubt I’ll have time the next couple days for the deserved frisking, so I’ll just let this stand as a marker.

After South Carolina, Reasons For Optimism

Posted: 21 Feb 2016 07:15 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)

So far, I have viewed the GOP presidential race as a slow-motion train wreck, but after South Carolina I think there are reasons to be optimistic:

1) Conservative candidates took 67.5% of the vote.

2) At some point, conservative Republicans will coalesce behind Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Either, at that point, should be able to defeat the RINO Trump rather easily. The risk, obviously, is that such unification could come too late.

3) As for the last point, it will take 1,237 delegates to win the nomination. So far, Trump has 61.

4) Jeb Bush is out of the race, a happy development. Carson and Kasich may or may not drop out soon–my guess is they won’t–but their voters will start to fall away. It is reasonable to expect that most of those voters will gravitate toward one of the conservative candidates, and my guess is that Rubio will get the largest number.

So, in my opinion, the Sun is shining a little brighter this morning.

After last night

Posted: 21 Feb 2016 05:39 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)

Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in the Nevada caucuses yesterday suggests that she has resumed her death march toward the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. For me, Clinton’s possible upset in Nevada represented the only sliver of hope in what figured to be an otherwise dismal day. As it proved to be (a dismal day, that is).

On the Republican side, Donald Trump won in South Carolina with 32.5 percent of the vote. That doesn’t seem like an impressive result, yet in a splintered field it represents a famous victory. So long as the Republican opposition to Trump remains divided among several candidates, he will retain an advantage moving toward the nomination. Apart from Texas, it’s difficult to think of a state that Senator Cruz has a reasonable prospect of winning.

How will Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich do when the process moves beyond the so-called SEC states? It seems to me that they will continue to divide the opposition to Trump, to Trump’s advantage. Following Jeb Bush, last night, John Kasich and Ben Carson need to leave the race as well.

Putting to one side the merits of what would be an utterly dispiriting contest, does anyone in his right mind seriously think that Donald Trump stands a chance of beating the Democratic nominee in a general election? I don’t, and I think Trump will take the Republican majorities in Congress down with him (UPDATE: not to mention the Supreme Court, of course).

But Trump is just the worst and most destructive candidate remaining in what has turned into a weak field. As Fred Barnes put it in his excellent Wall Street Journal column last week “Republicans are campaigning to lose” (accessible here via Google, I hope). I should add that Barnes’s column provides poll data giving ground for disagreement with one or two of my assessments above.

In her dreadful victory speech yesterday (video below), Clinton played some oldies but baddies in her slow-it-down-for the-slow monotone. In a throwback to the days of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, Madam Hillary was peddling racial disparities in mortgage denials. And that wasn’t the worst of it. Unbelievable.

Get ready for much more of this.

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